Graham, Chris and Tom Francis gather to discuss the Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative, Diablo 3, Torchlight 2, upcoming MMO The Secret World and Deus Ex: Human Revolution's problematic cutscenes. We also talk about Graham and Rich's ongoing FIFA 12 rivalry and (try to) answer your questions from Twitter. Also, we decide that capitalism doesn't work. See below for show notes.
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Chris' Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative hands on video and the final map. Tom's Torchlight 2 video series. Chris and Tom Senior's first look at The Secret World.
Valve have announced that the Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative puzzle maker has seen more than 35,000 levels published to the Steam Workshop since its release on Tuesday - and they've been downloaded over 1.3 million times.
In order to celebrate these really very large numbers, Valve have decided to make some other numbers much smaller: namely, the prices of Portal 2, Skyrim and TF2 Workshop Items on Steam. The 'Weekend Workshop Sale' will run until Monday and you can pick up Portal 2 for £5.09 and Skyrim for £23.44.
You can check out our first hands-on with the puzzle maker here, and if you're picking up Skyrim this weekend be sure to browse the PC Gamer mod collections for the best additions to the game.
The Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC is now live, and as promised you can download the first PC Gamer-themed test chamber from the Steam Workshop.
It's a little bit more complicated than the puzzle I built in fifteen minutes for our hands-on video, but that's not saying much. At least you can't beat this one with only two portals. Thanks for pointing that out, though, everyone.
The new level editor is a great tool and we're excited to see what the community manages to achieve with it. Getting started on your own test chambers? Share your efforts, tips and recommendations in the comments thread below.
As Valve themselves once said, making games is hard. Over the course of a weekend with the Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC, I've established my own version of that rule: making games is harder when you're an idiot.
I recorded my first baby steps with the new test chamber editor, and in doing so have created a permanent record of my failures as a human being. Marvel as I crush myself with a lift! Yell at your monitor as I fail to consider an array of incredibly trivial solutions to my own puzzle!
By way of compensation, I spent another couple of hours working on my test chamber and eventually hammered it into something resembling an actual level. You'll be able to download the final result - the PCG Reflection Challenge - from the Portal 2 Workshop when the DLC launches later today. 'Reflection' means two things, in this context. One: what you do with a laser. Two: that I need to have a bit of a think about my life.
Valve announced today that Portal 2's in-game puzzle maker will be called "Perpetual Testing Initiative," and will be available free on May 8 for PC and Mac. The DLC will be capable of publishing puzzles directly to Steam Workshop, where users can browse, install, and vote on the community's creations.
Plans for the puzzle creator were announced last year, and we confirmed that it was in beta at GDC earlier this year. According to Chet Faliszek, Left 4 Dead 2 is next in line for the Steam Workshop treatment.
“You’ll see the Steam Workshop coming from there, then to Left 4 Dead and then we’re going to keep using it,” said Faliszek. “It’s not just for the modders, it’s for the players. It’s a super easy way to consume the creations of other people that are just really hard to do otherwise.”
Any plans to flex your physics muscles by making and playing custom Portal 2 puzzles next month?
The Portal 2 puzzle creator will let players make their own test chambers without having to dive into Valve's complex level creation tools. We got a chance to catch up with Chet Faliszeck and Erik Johnson at GDC for a chat about Valve's plans for the user friendly level editor. "I believe they’re beta testing it right now," said Erik Johnson. "When the puzzle maker comes out, you will have a lot of content, that’s for sure."
Valve announced their plans for the Puzzle Creator on the Portal 2 site last year, where they released the first couple of screenshots. It looks very similar to the animated diagrams of the first Portal trailers, released way back in 2007. Much, much friendlier than Valve's Hammer editor.
Valve are expecting a rush of new maps when the new tools are released. October's Portal 2 post mentioned that Valve were also planning "a community site to host all of these player-created puzzles." The recently released Steam Workshop can do just that, presumably players will be able to use the Workshop to show off their levels and vote on their favourites.
"Correct," said Erik. We can expect to see Steam Workshop support appearing in other Valve games, too. "You’ll see the Steam Workshop coming from there, then to Left 4 Dead and then we’re going to keep using it," Chet Faliszeck added. "It’s not just for the modders, it’s for the players. It’s a super easy way to consume the creations of other people that are just really hard to do otherwise."
There's no release date for the new tools yet, but if it's in beta testing, it can't be too far off.
Not all of Valve's discarded ideas are great, the binned competitive multiplayer mode for Portal 2 is one such example, but some of them are. The video above is from a Valve talk at GDC in which they discussed many of the ideas that never made it into the full game. This scene was originally Portal 2's opening.
There were many more great ideas left on the drawing board. In fact, the whole game was set to pan out very differently. Eurogamer sat in on the conference, and describe out Wheatley was originally supposed to stay dead when Glados crushes him near the beginning. Rather than being a persistent companion, he was merely the first in a series of personality spheres you'd meet as you travelled through Aperture's labs. Other spheres included a paranoid AI and one that Valve's Eric Wolpaw calls "The Morgan Freeman sphere."
Players were originally supposed to find the Morgan Freeman sphere sat on a lonely stand in the middle of an empty room. "He'd been sitting on that little pedestal for a few centuries, and he was just incredibly, incredibly wise" said Wolpaw. "But only about the 20 by 20 space that he was in."
"As soon as you dragged him 22 feet out of the room, his mind was blown and he was pretty much useless. Although as the game progressed, he eventually got his feet under him and started delivering some homespun wisdom that all related back to this 20 by 20 space." Valve discarded the extra orbs when they found that players didn't bond to them as well as Wheatley, the first sphere went on to become an integral part of Portal 2's plot.
Valve were also planning to have several endings scattered throughout the campaign. "We had these parts throughout the game where Chell would die and that would be the end and we'd play a song, and if you wanted to you could just quit there." Wolpaw told the audience. "We had one that was like two minutes into the game, and if you died there, there was a song that was just about reviewing those first two minutes."
They also had a few other ideas. The next bit contains spoilers for the end of Portal 2, in case you haven't played it yet.
Initially, there was a scene part way through the game in which you'd catch a glimpse of the moon. To trigger an early death you could portal up there to "asphyxiate while listening to a sad song about the moon." Valve eventually dropped the multiple endings because they felt as though they didn't have enough good ideas, but the moon went on to become Portal 2's memorable finale. According to Wolpaw, it was the "perfect mix of being totally awesome and completely stupid." It's hard to disagree.
Valve's Chet Faliszek and Eric Wolpaw conducted a Portal 2 postmortem at GDC last night. The writers talked candidly about alternate endings and the difficulties of following up on their critically acclaimed first game. Chet also mentioned that, at some point in development, the team experimented with competitive Portal 2 multiplayer modes.
Chet also mentioned that they sucked. "We also tried a competitive multiplayer mode which we put together over the space of a month or two," he revealed. "It was a mix of the old Amiga game Speedball and Portal, except with none of the good parts of either of those two. The game was super chaotic and no fun, so the only good news about this part was that we cut it pretty quickly."
Speedball 2 was a competitive, violent, and featured an incredible soundtrack, and I love the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device as much as the next man. That said, I can imagine this combo resulting in a confusing mess of nonsense. Valve made attempts to satisfy more competitive gamers by including leaderboards and a challenge mode in some later DLC.
Last night the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards took place in San Francisco. The awards ceremony celebrates the "creativity, artistry and technical genius of the finest developers and games." It was hosted by Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim brought home the bacon with Game of the Year, but Portal 2 brought home three different types of bacon: Game Design, Best Audio and Best Narrative. Fledgling developers Super Giant took recieved two awards for the innovative Bastion: Best Debut and Best Downloadable Game. Battlefield 3 took Best Technology, but not best Visual Arts which was awarded to PS3’s Uncharted 3. Boo!
The 14th Annual Independent Games Festival Awards happened before the show. They’re about encouraging innovation and recognisng the best indie devs about. Our Tom was nominated for his excellently designed indie, Gunpoint. He was pipped to the post by one of his favourite game designers, Derek Yu, though so I doubt he’s that upset. Fez took the coveted Seumas McNally Grand Prize.
Click through for the list of nominees and winners. Congratulations to everyone involved!
The winners appear in bold. Here are all the results from the Game Developer’s Choice Awards.
Game of the Year Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios) Portal 2 (Valve) Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal) Dark Souls (FromSoftware) Best Game Design The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo) Portal 2 (Valve) Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios) Dark Souls (FromSoftware) Innovation Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Toys For Bob) Portal 2 (Valve) Bastion (Supergiant Games) Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik) L.A. Noire (Team Bondi) Best Technology Battlefield 3 (DICE) L.A. Noire (Team Bondi) Crysis 2 (Crytek Frankfurt/UK) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios) Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog) Best Handheld/Mobile Game Tiny Tower (NimbleBit) Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo) Jetpack Joyride (Halfbrick) Infinity Blade II (Chair Entertainment) Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Capy Games/Superbrothers) Best Audio Bastion (Supergiant Games) LittleBigPlanet 2 (Media Molecule) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios) Dead Space 2 (Visceral Games) Portal 2 (Valve) Best Downloadable Game Stacking (Double Fine) From Dust (Ubisoft Montpellier) Bastion (Supergiant Games) Outland (Housemarque) Frozen Synapse (Mode 7) est Narrative Portal 2 (Valve) The Witcher 2 (CD Projekt RED) Bastion (Supergiant Games) Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog) Saints Row: The Third (Volition) Best Debut Supergiant Games (Bastion) Team Bondi (L.A. Noire) Re-Logic (Terraria) BioWare Austin (Star Wars: The Old Republic) Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) Best Visual Arts Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog) Rayman Origins (Ubisoft Montpellier) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios) El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Ignition Japan) Battlefield 3 (DICE) Pioneer Award Dave Theurer, creator of Missile Command, Tempest, and I, Robot Ambassador Award Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith, game industry lawyers for the Supreme Court case against California Lifetime Achievement Award Warren Spector, founder Junction Point Studios
And here are the results of the Independent Games Festival awards. Gratz on getting nominated Tom! Seumas McNally Grand Prize Dear Esther (thechineseroom) Fez (Polytron) Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games) Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik) Spelunky (Mossmouth) Technical Excellence Antichamber (Demruth) Fez (Polytron) Prom Week (Expressive Intelligence Studio, UC Santa Cruz) Realm of the Mad God (Wild Shadow Studios & Spry Fox) Spelunky (Mossmouth) Excellence in Visual Art Botanicula (Amanita Design) Dear Esther (thechineseroom) Lume (State of Play Games) Mirage (Mario von Rickenbach) Wonderputt (Damp Gnat) Excellence in Design Atom Zombie Smasher (Blendo Games) English Country Tune (Stephen Lavelle) Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games) Gunpoint (Tom Francis, John Roberts, and Fabian van Dommelen) Spelunky (Mossmouth) Excellence in Audio Botanicula (Amanita Design) Dear Esther (thechineseroom) Pugs Luv Beats (Lucky Frame) To The Moon (Freebird Games) Waking Mars (Tiger Style) Best Mobile Game ASYNC Corp (Powerhead Games) Beat Sneak Bandit (Simogo) Faraway (Steph Thirion) Ridiculous Fishing (Vlambeer) Waking Mars (Tiger Style) Nuovo Award (Designed "to honor abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development.") At a Distance (Terry Cavanagh) Dear Esther (thechineseroom) Fingle (Game Oven Studios) GIRP (Bennett Foddy) Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga) Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik) Storyteller (Daniel Benmergui) Way (CoCo & Co.) Best Student Game The Bridge (Case Western Reserve University) Dust (Art Institute of Phoenix) The Floor Is Jelly (Kansas City Art Institute) Nous (DigiPen Institute of Technology) One and One Story (Liceo Scientifico G.B. Morgagni) Pixi (DigiPen Institute of Technology - Singapore) The Snowfield (Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab) Way (Carnegie Mellon University) Audience Award Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games) XBLA Award Super Time Force (Capybara Games)
Forbes have published their latest list of the planet's richest people, and have declared Valve co-founder Gabe Newell the Newest Video Game Billionaire. Of the 1226 billionaires on the planet, Newell is the 854th richest with an estimated worth of $1.5 billion.
Valve keep their finances strictly private, so Forbes consulted "video game industry insiders, equity analysts, investment bankers, and technology analysts" for figures and factored in the tremendous success of Portal 2 and the continued growth of Steam as factors in their latest estimate.
"Even the most conservative estimates put Valve’s enterprise value at more than $3 billion," they say. Newell owns more than half of Valve, placing his estimated worth at the 1.5 billion mark.
Well done them. That is rather a lot of cash. They could probably pool all their resources and create a working Portal gun if they wanted to, but they'd probably rather make games.